I recently was asked what role life experience plays for a librarian. It's an interesting question, and one I admit I did not expect. When I teach master's students, I try to get them to reflect upon their "real" life, especially as it may relate to leadership potential. Perhaps I should also ask them how they could apply those experiences to their potential to solve problems creatively at work!
I think that when people are allowed (by which I mean not criticized) to leverage their experiences fully, you start seeing librarianship as a profession infused with knowledge that aids in understanding our impact on our social systems in the workplace. This then happens in a way that if we confine our notions to what is appropriate (by which I mean text book knowledge or tradition) that perhaps is impossible! Last week, someone at a conference asked "What would you do differently if you were the CEO of your position?" and the question was intended to empower individuals. What if we each were asked that questions AND we were allowed the unfettered ability to draw into our solutions whatever prior knowledge we might have, as well as to look at other disciplines and the corporate world for possible products or research for ideas?
I think it would help. For example, I used to be an insurance adjuster, specializing in worker's compensation. If I learned nothing else, I learned how to deal with situations were you had to break bad news to people who were suffering (like telling someone who had lost their hearing that their claim was not compensable under North Carolina statutes). Believe me, I have never had a job that brought me less joy, but I learned how compassion can help everyone involved...and I learned how to document a situation so that anyone looking at the file could understand what was going on.
What do you think? Can we be more entrepreneurial because of our past or does that really hinder us? I can't say that I've ever felt that I had a new solution because of being in insurance...but other life experiences have helped me with creative problem solving.
Have you had prior experiences that you think make you a better librarian?